What do we do when evil invades our personal worlds? Perhaps someone verbally assaults us. Or physically assaults us. Maybe we are discriminated against because of our ethnicity, or age, or gender, or some physical condition beyond our control. Maybe we are used in a relationship. Maybe we are stolen from. Nobody will be immune from evil in this life.
Some years ago I was swindled out of a significant amount of money by someone I had met face-to-face. On the day this was brought to light, besides being angry at the man who swindled me, I found the world becoming a little colder and grayer. One sucker punch provoked me to put up a continual guard. I took a half-step back from the hundreds of people in my circle who had never taken anything from me.
The psalmists were familiar with pain and suffering at the hands of others. And in their songs we find the words the men and women of Israel used to grapple with the evil that confronted them. The rawness of their cries gives us permission to vocalize what, at times, seems unspeakable. Psalm 3, a confident response to evil, gives us a powerful portrait of the faithful trusting God in the midst of wickedness.
The psalm is set against the backdrop of an attempted coup by David’s son Absalom. David and Absalom had become estranged through a series of events recorded in 2 Samuel 13-14. And the overthrow ventured by Absalom was a vicious, unrestrained attack. He created a clever scheme to turn a great number of people in Israel against David. He marched up to Jerusalem, took over David’s palace, and publicly raped the women of David’s household. And then he launched a plot to have David assassinated. David and most of his household fled for their lives. This was an extremely dark time.
The prayers of Psalm 3 can be helpfully contrasted with many of the ways we are tempted to respond when we are attacked.
When we are the victims of the evil attacks of others, we may be tempted to lose confidence in the goodness of God.
The most heinous evils committed against us really only become disastrous when they separate us from God. Don’t you find something similar to be true in your marriage or family? All family relationships go through hardships, failures, and painful moments. But these only become fatal when we allow them to drive a permanent wedge between us and our loved ones.
The psalmist writes in Psalm 3:2, “Many are saying of me, ‘God will not deliver him.’” Voices of despair telling David God had forsaken him were ringing in his ears. We, too, have an enemy who whispers the same message to us whenever we face evil. “God doesn’t care about you. If He did, He would not have let this happen to you. Forget about God.”
So how did David respond? He confesses aloud the very aspects of God’s covenant commitment that were being challenged.
But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. Psalm 3:3
When evil comes into your world, take some time to confess the goodness, faithfulness, and loving commitment of God.